Senate Approves Bill to Reauthorize Landmark Autism Law

September 19, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) announced today that bipartisan legislation to reauthorize federal programs that help individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families has been approved by the U.S. Senate. Having already passed the House, the bill will now go to the President to be signed into law.

The bill, the Autism CARES Act of 2019 (H.R. 1058), is supported by a broad coalition of autism and disability advocate organizations, including Autism Speaks, the Autism Society of America, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. A companion bill (S. 427) was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY).

This is a great step for individuals and families impacted by ASD,” Congressman Doyle said. “This bill will help address some of the gaps that remain in our understanding of ASD, and it will help us develop critical interventions and more support for individuals with autism, their families, and autism care professionals.”

The Autism CARES Act of 2019 would reauthorize the Autism CARES Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-157). It would authorize over $1 billion in funding for programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) over five years. At CDC, the funding would go to developmental disability surveillance and research; at HRSA, the funding would cover education, early detection and intervention; at NIH, the funding would cover the expansion and coordination of autism-related activities.

Among other actions, the legislation:

  • Requires HHS to report to Congress on the progress of activities related to autism and other developmental disabilities, and the health and well-being of individuals on the autism spectrum. 
  • Directs NIH to conduct research targeted at improving outcomes and detection for persons with autism of all ages. 
  • Directs HRSA to prioritize grants for developmental-behavioral pediatricians in medically-underserved areas. 
  • Amends sections of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to reflect the need for research, surveillance, education, detection, and intervention for individuals with autism spectrum disorder of all ages, not just children. 

Click here to see Congressman Doyle’s statement on the House Floor in support of the Autism CARES Act.